How Long Does it Take to Become a Good Tattoo Artist?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on October 1, 2021
    Last Updated: February 18, 2022

You love art and design and have a passion for tattoos, your ideal career path may be to become a tattoo artist. However, It’s not as easy as it looks and there’s more to becoming a professional tattoo artist than just a needle and some ink.

It will take years of hard work, studying, and lots of hours of working for very little, if any money at all. You don’t need a degree for this job but you do need to spend many hours learning from other professionals.

To be a successful tattoo artist takes more than a skill of drawing. You need to understand art and the different concepts and styles. You also need to be determined and have great interpersonal skills. Networking is important in the world of tattoo artists, especially when you’re first starting out.

If all of this doesn’t faze you and you still want to give it a go, we’ll let you know just how long it will take you to become a good tattoo artist and the steps that you need to take along the way.

What’s Required to Become a Tattoo Artist?

Determination is needed to become a successful tattoo artist. While you don’t need any formal education, you will need years of studying and practicing the basic skills. 

You first need to learn to understand the basic skills of art and tattoos, improving your drawing with these in mind. You don’t have to be the best at drawing but it helps if you’re good at this and have a creative personality to be able to expand your skill. 

Watching other tattoo artists at work is an ideal way to learn and you are able to do this as part of an apprenticeship. Remember that this will probably be unpaid work so you will need to factor that into your plans. 

How Long Does it Take to Become a Good Tattoo Artist?

It will take between three to five years to become a professional tattoo artist and this isn’t something that you should rush. You don’t have to go to school to become a tattoo artist but you do need to put in lots of hard work for very little, if any money at all. 

The first thing that you should do when you decide that you want to be a tattoo artist is to learn to draw. You should also take time to learn about art as this will give you a better understanding of the different styles and concepts. 

The next step is to put together a portfolio of your best designs and artwork to show to tattoo artists as a way to secure an apprenticeship. This should have lots of different styles of drawings to highlight your diversity and skill when adapting to different requests. 

Are There Tattoo Artist Schools?

There are some schools out there and courses that focus on tattoos. However, the best way to learn the art of tattooing is by watching and learning from a professional tattoo artist. 

You could join a course to learn about tattoos, art or graphic design in the initial stages of your education. You should then follow this up with an apprenticeship, where you’ll learn the real art of tattooing while on the job.

How Do I Get a Tattoo Artist Apprenticeship?

The first thing that you should do when trying to get an apprenticeship is to put together your portfolio. This should show off your best artwork and showcase your designs in a professional way. A professional-looking portfolio is the best way to catch the attention of a possible mentor or secure yourself an apprenticeship. 

The work that you choose for your portfolio should be the best representation of your style and drawing skills. It should show the mentor that you are able to handle details, line work and shading, in both color and black and white. 

Your portfolio should be all your own work and unique designs. Potential mentors don’t want to see copies of other people’s work, they want to see your skills and exactly what you are capable of. 

One thing to remember about getting a mentor or an apprenticeship is that this will be unpaid work. Some mentors will even ask you to pay for their time and tutoring, this can cost up to 10,000 dollars.


If your dream is to become a tattoo artist you need to put in the hard work and spend many hours practicing your drawing skills. You should also save up some money beforehand as you’ll need this while doing your apprenticeship. 

Contact professional tattoo artists in your area to understand what they’re offering and go to speak to them to see how they work.

If you’re passionate and willing to put in the work needed, there’s every reason to believe that you will become a successful tattoo artist.

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